How to Clean Stuffed Animals and Dolls


Courtney asked: I have a stuffed doll I got when I was little and I’m not sure how to wash it. It has yarn for hair and I don’t want to ruin it. Please help!

Whether it’s a keepsake from your childhood or your child’s doll, they will eventually need to be cleaned. Fortunately, this is an easy task and can be completed in the washing machine with a few simple protective steps.

Washing Machine Cleaning

You Will Need:

  • Woolite or laundry detergent
  • Pillow case
  • Rubber band or string
  • Old panty hose

Steps to Clean the Doll:

  1. Prepare the doll by removing the clothing and repairing any weak or damaged areas.
  2. If the doll has corn silk hair, place a piece of nylon (12-15 inches long) over the head to hold the hair in place. This will keep it from frizzing after it has dried.
  3. Place the doll inside of the pillow case and close the end with a rubber band or tie it closed with string. Most stuffed animals can be placed directly into the water with no protective covering.
  4. Wash as normal on the gentle cycle with warm or cold water.
  5. After the washing is complete, remove the doll from the pillow case.
  6. Straighten any hair or areas that were rustled around.
  7. Allow the doll to air dry completely.

Cleaning with Baking Soda

You Will Need:

  • Large bag
  • Baking soda
  • Small bin or tub
  • Small cloth or sponge
  • Water
  • Bowl
  • Towel

Steps to Clean the Doll:

  1. Baking soda can be used to clean animals and dolls with both wet and dry methods.
  2. To clean a stuffed animal without wetting it, sprinkle the surface with baking soda.
  3. Allow it to set for an hour.
  4. Wipe the fur (with some force) with a towel or soft cloth to remove the dust and dirt.
  5. Cleaning a doll or stuffed animal with baking soda and water allows for a great opportunity for your child to clean their own doll and give it a “bath.”
  6. Fill a bowl with water and add some baking soda. A bin can also be used to better simulate a small bathtub.
  7. Have your child place their doll into the water and wash them with the water.
  8. If the water splashes onto the floor, leave it to clean the floor as well.
  9. When the doll is cleaned, rinse thoroughly with clean water.
  10. Allow to dry.
  11. Mop the floor to remove the spilled and splashed water.
  12. Enjoy an clean toy and a clean floor!

Additional Tips and Advice

  • To speed up the drying process, place the doll or stuff animal near a dehumidifier.
  • Some toys can tolerate the heat of the dryer, or can be dried on a no-heat setting. Add a pair of clean shoes to help toss the toy around and “beat” out any dirt.
  • Check the seams before and after cleaning to tend to any weak or torn areas.
  • Stuffed animals can also be brushed clean to remove dirt build-up.


  1. Joyce says:

    I have a rubber doll from the late 50′s. The doll has darkened with age. How do I get the rubber to lighten up again?

  2. Jade says:

    What about dolls that can’t be submerged in water? How do these instructions relate to surface cleaning? I have vintage Cabbage Patch from 1984, one of which came to me apparently having been exposed to oil or grease. I can’t submerge that doll; it would mold before it dried. So where are the SURFACE cleaning instructions?

  3. Melanie says:

    The surface cleaning instructions are in the second section of the article. The baking soda can absorb the oil or grease, as well as dirt. Allow the powder to sit for an hour or overnight and repeat if needed.

  4. V Mileti says:

    How would you recommend cleaning a big Winnie the Pooh (bigger than a toddler)?
    I did try & hope I did not ruin it: dishwashing liquid on a microfiber towel. Rubbed it in, wiped/rinsed with a different microfiber and left it out when it was very sunny.
    But, it does not look fluffy now.


  5. Melanie says:

    There could be a couple causes. It’s possible that you used a bit too much soap and now there is some soap residue on the fur. If that’s the case, use a wet cloth to rinse the bear again. It sounds like you too great care though, so if you think that you did rinse the soap well and feel that the fur is just matted from the cleaning, then you probably just need to re-fluff the fur. To do that, first try just brushing it gently with a soft brush, such as a nail brush. If that isn’t enough, you could toss it in the dryer briefly on air only (if it doesn’t have any parts that could be damaged) – no heat. Another option is to wrap a thin cloth over the handheld hose on a vacuum and use the suction to fluff the fur.
    Source: – How to Fluff Out Stuffed Animal Hair After Washing
    Source: Mamapedia – Getting Softness Back to Plush Toy After Spin in Dryer

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